John Gorentz (johngorentz) wrote in democracyreader,
John Gorentz
johngorentz
democracyreader

Corporatism and Letter from Birmingham City Jail

"...it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals."

This is from Martin Luther King Jr's famous "Letter from Birmingham City Jail."

BTW, I had certainly heard of this letter before, but had never read it until now. I was quite impressed, from beginning to end.

The quoted item above is by far not the most important thing in the letter, but it caught my attention. I hadn't known that Reinhold Niebuhr said anything like that about groups and individuals. But it's true. As an individual I might not want to support the oppressive government of China or whatever, but as a member of a group, i.e. as an employee of a corporation that happens to be a public university, I have to buy from whoever offers the best price. Same way when it comes to dealing with other employees -- my responsibility is to look out for the good of the university. As individuals we might never want to create hardship for other hard-up individuals to build a new baseball stadium, justice center, or fund a health care plan so that Ma and Pa don't have to sell their $200,000 motor home and $500,000 home. But as members of a group, we'll do it.

If the term "corporate greed" means anything at all, it means that we'll do things behind the shield of the organization that we would never justify doing as individuals.
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